How many of us are aware of the organic or natural fad that is currently a trend in our nation? How many of us have glanced at the organic sections of the supermarket only to walk away because of the high prices? How many of us even understand what it means when an item is organic? Until recently, I have always thought of organics as over-priced food no better than the regular food. In some cases, I even thought the organic produce did not look as good as the regular or “conventionally grown” produce.
My journey to healthier living began about the time Camden was born. This journey is not overnight, not by any means. It has taken me two years to get to where I am today and I am not finished. I think I made the first step, breast-feeding, without really knowing how much better bf is than formula. Of course, I did know that bf is better, I am not that naïve, but I think my main reason was financially related. You can save lots of money by breastfeeding! I made my second step towards healthier living for mainly the same reason. I made Camden’s baby food. I bought fresh or frozen veggies and fruits, steamed and then pureed them. I then froze them into convenient ice cubes and kept them handy for reheating. When I did not have pureed veggies on hand, I did but organic baby food. I am not entirely sure why I did this, but it was really only a few cents more per jar and I didn’t want any additives in Camden’s food. I also bought organic cereal for Camden. About the time I started feeding Camden solid foods, my friend, Valerie, started experimenting with probiotics for her son. Valerie’s son had terrible acid reflux, so she started probiotics with him. She also told me about a baby cereal that she was using that contained probiotics. So I started using Happy Bellies baby cereal. Camden really liked it and we still use it today to thicken his yogurt. At this point in my journey, I still had not read much or done any serious research on being healthier.
The next major step for my journey began only a few months ago. I have enjoyed reading and largely agree with the principles behind Dr. Sears’ books. He is a Harvard trained pediatrician in California who has written numerous books on various child-rearing subjects. A few months ago, I checked out The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood by Dr. Sears. In his book he talks about staying away from certain additives (high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, trans fats, aspartame, food colorings are some of the main ones) in foods that keep your kids from being at their healthiest. I am always trying to be the best mother and example for my child and I think most of us want the healthiest life we can have for ourselves and our children, so I immediately stopped buying any products with these ingredients. In doing so, our pantry slowly transformed from containing gold-fish, Life cereal, Wheat thins, semolina pastas, white rice, white flour, lots of canned foods lined with plastics that contain BPA, rolled oatmeal and chips to organic oatmeal animal cookies, Annie’s snack bunnies, whole granola cereal, raw and roasted nuts, whole grain pastas, whole wheat flour, dry beans instead of canned, less canned food, steel cut oats, and organic blue corn chips. Our fridge and freezer went from containing conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, regular eggs, diet yogurts, regular milk, diet coke, lunch meats containing nitrites and nitrates to mostly organic fruits and vegetables (especially the dirty dozen), organic eggs fortified with omega 3s, organic, plain non-fat yogurt, organic milk, lunch meats with no nitrates or nitrites, hummus, and flax meal. I have yet to buy organic meat. I really want to but grass fed beef and cage free chicken. However, I cannot seem to bring myself to spend six dollars a pound for ground beef. I am currently looking into co-ops and Town and Country meats for this portion of our switch. One co-op I researched had decent prices on their chicken, but the beef was still six dollars a pound. Well, this is a journey…not a magical transformation overnight.
Step three of my journey has also begun recently. Actually, I am still working on this one. I am trying to replace my toxic cleaning supplies and detergents with natural non-toxic alternatives. Unfortunately, I like to shop in bulk on these items and I have lots of Clorox wipes, Clorox toilet bowl cleaner, 409 Kitchen cleaner, and ALL laundry detergent. I am not going to just throw these out, too much money down the drain. However, I will no longer buy cleaning supplies that contain chlorine and ammonia. There are some cheaper alternatives. Vinegar and baking soda are both excellent cleaning supplies that are natural, non-toxic and cheap! I am also resolved not to buy any paper products that are bleached with chlorine, and yes, this includes feminine hygiene. Along with cleaning supplies, I am trying to replace my skin, hair and cosmetic care supplies with natural non-toxic alternatives. I have already bought California Baby lotion for Camden, and as soon as his shampoo runs out I will buy something else. I discovered most of the products I use are moderate to highly toxic on skin deep, a cosmetic database. Unfortunately, my shampoo and conditioner are both highly toxic and just spent thirty dollars buying a whole liter of each! Oh, well. This is a step by step process. The decision to look into more natural products for cleaning and skin care came to me from two different sources. First, in part of my healthy eating journey, I read several books discussing the nasty chemicals and additives in food that ruin your hormones and thus mess up your metabolism. Food is not the only toxins our body absorbs to mess up our metabolism or overall health. We are surrounded by toxins from cleaning supplies, paper products, cosmetics and plastics. And that is just the stuff we can control, obviously there are many toxins in our environment we cannot change. The second reason I wanted to change these cleaning supplies and cosmetics is because a trusted and admired friend, Valerie, has also been doing some research on some of these things and has made some changes herself. You can find out about her changes on this blogazine as well.
Finally, as with all journeys, mine is not over. There are so many changes I still want to make:
- Buy organic grass-fed beef and organic cage free chicken.
- Buy non-toxic cleaning supplies and detergents. I would really like to try Maggie’s Soap Nuts.
- Replace all of mine and Camden’s cosmetics with products that rank 0 on the cosmetic database.
- Get rid of all plastics food containers in my kitchen and replace with glass.
- Get rid of all plastic water bottles and replace with stainless steel.
- Cloth diaper my next child.
- Buy organic sheets and towels and possibly clothing for a newborn.
Struggle comes with any change you make in life. And this change in my life has not come without struggle. First, there is the cost of everything. We have a pretty tight budget in our family, so I have to be a good steward of that budget. What is the cost of my health and my family’s health to me? Second, my husband is not totally on board with this journey to a healthier life. However, I know that he supports me and loves me and is willing to go along with the ride as long as a stay in the budget. : )
Disclaimer: This is just my personal story. Everyone should make their own judgements when it comes to their own health. I just wanted to share what I am going through with you.